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Marian Dixon: A Story of Resilience and Hope in the Face of Grief

  by Marian Dixon | Photos Contributed by Author

(The following article discusses grief in detail. It may contain information that is triggering or upsetting to some readers. If you are experiencing grief or have experienced grief in the past, please consider your own well-being before reading this article.)

Grief is something no one wants to go through, but we all have to face it sooner or later. In my life, I have had a lot of grief. I have lost my father, mother, all of my brothers, my daughter, and my husband.

Our sixth child, a daughter, died as a baby when she was only four months and three weeks old. This caused me to go into a very deep depression. I couldn’t do anything for myself, my children, or my husband. I felt like I was in a glass box watching the world go on around me. This went on for a few months. I became like one of my children, with them doing for me. The doctor wanted to put me in the hospital on medication, but my husband said no to that. Our oldest daughter came into the house and said, “Varina is gone, but you still have us.” I know, without a doubt, that God used our six-year-old to bring me back to reality.

Marian Dixion, 80, currently resides at the senior living facility called Timberlake Place on East Market Street. Before her daughter’s passing on January 31, 1963, she used to live at 357 12th Street Northwest, which is still standing today. The family then moved to a house located at the bottom of Preston Avenue, opposite Trinity Episcopal Church, which has now been replaced by apartments primarily occupied by University of Virginia students.

Healing
Her words seemed to become like a fist in the midst of my stomach, and I began to cry for the first time since Varina had died. Although at the funeral, all through the funeral and burial, I had not cried. Those words caused me to cry for over an hour or three hours. Grief was eating me up inside and I had no control over it. A few days later, I was back to being a wife, a mother, and a mother to my family.

Grief can take your very life away if you don’t get help. Mine came by prayer and God using our child at that time.

After that, I lost my mother first, which was hard. But I was much older and could cope with it better. My dad died of cancer a bit later.

Learning to Live with Grief
Grief of my husband was easier for me because we talked about it. And I knew what he wanted because of his sickness. Our daughter was the worst of all. Because in your mind, you expect your child to bury you, not the other way around. I was even mad at God for a while. I had to come to understand that no one has control over how long we live or when we will die. I asked God to forgive me and I thank him for the years we had together.

To those of you who are grieving, try not to think about the bad, but to think about the good times together. Silly things you did will take away the sadness. You will smile again and not cry. Joy will come in a special way that only God can give you. You will always miss them. But lonely days will pass. New things will begin to unfold for you. If you did all you could do for them in life, you will have no regrets when they are gone.

Photo of Marian in her younger years. Provided by Mariam Dixon.

Grief is a difficult experience, but it is something that we all have to go through at some point in our lives. It is important to remember that you are not alone and that there are people who can help you through this difficult time. If you are grieving, please reach out to a friend, family member, or counselor for support.

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If you are experiencing grief, you are not alone. There is help available.

Call 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, a free, confidential 24/7 service that can provide support and resources to people in emotional distress.

In addition, there are a number of local services available to help people cope with grief, including:

  • Help Happens Here: https://helphappenshere.org/mentalhealthservices/
  • The Center: https://thecentercville.org/programs/detail/category/support-groups
  • Hospice of the Piedmont: https://hopva.org/grief-and-healing/

Please reach out for help if you need it.

Additional information about the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline:

  • The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of over 200 crisis centers that provides free and confidential support 24/7.
  • The Lifeline connects people with a trained crisis counselor who can provide emotional support, resources, and referrals to other services.
  • The Lifeline is available to anyone who needs it, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

If you are in immediate danger of harming yourself or someone else, please call 911.

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